One thing restaurant owners know for sure is that customer tastes change. However, no matter what the latest and greatest trends are in the foodservice industry, customers never tire of foods cooked on a restaurant kitchen charbroiler. Perhaps it is a deep rooted connection to our early ancestors who cooked meals over an open fire, but menu items prepared on a restaurant kitchen charbroiler evoke a perception of freshness and health that few other cooking methods can offer. There are several styles available when it comes to selecting the right restaurant kitchen charbroiler for your concept, so it is important to understand how each model impacts the final product you provide to your guest.
Restaurant Kitchen Charbroiler Styles
What makes a restaurant kitchen charbroiler so special is that it either directly, or indirectly cooks food over open heating elements. The heat can be produced by a gas flame, charcoal, wood, electric heated elements, or a combination of two. The best way to determine which charbroiler is best for your restaurant kitchen design concept comes down to how these types of heating elements impact the food cooked on them.
The salamander is the most basic of charbroilers. Fired typically with gas, some models offer electrical heating elements and radiate down, to cook the food beneath them. They are most commonly installed on the rear of a restaurant kitchen range, but can also be mounted on a rear wall shelf. The distance between the heating element and the food rack is very short so this unit is best for cooking very thin items such as fish fillets or thinly sliced vegetables. Manufacturer Pictured: Garland
Radiant Heat Charbroiler
The radiant heat charbroiler is the most commonly installed restaurant kitchen charbroiler used in the industry today. This gas fired unit heats food from beneath and most models come with various grate options ranging from thick rods to thin rails to accommodate delicate items. These units heat metal plates beneath the rods to diffuse the heat beneath the food. Some say they heat most evenly, but overtime many will create “hot spots” due to the natural deterioration of the metal diffusing plates. Manufacturer Pictured: Vulcan
Ceramic Coal Charbroiler
This charbroiler functions similarly to the radiant heat charbroiler, but instead of metal plates to diffuse the heat, charcoal style bricks made from ceramic are used to diffuse the heat. These bricks will need to be replaced every year or so, but one of the benefits of using this type of charbroiler is that the bricks can be reorganized to minimize or eliminate the “Hot spots” that may develop. Some manufacturers also offer accessories for this unit such as smoking boxes to impart a smoky flavor, without the need to maintain a live charcoal or wood fire. Manufacturer Pictured: MagiKitch’n
Mesquite or Wood Fired Charbroiler
Adding this type of charbroiler to a restaurant kitchen design concept allows a skilled chef to cook with solid wood fuel such as mesquite or fruit woods. Cooking foods over live fire such as this imparts large amount of smoked flavor to foods, which is desirable in many restaurants. They should be added with caution since it takes a skill chef to manage the fire to ensure even heating and cooking consistency. Manufacturer Pictured: Imperial Range
Charcoal Charbroiling Oven
This unit is a combination between a charbroiler and an oven. The advantage to this type of restaurant kitchen charbroiler is that it imparts the desired smoky flavor, but potentially speeds the cooking process when the door is closed. This door closing effectively makes the charbroiler and charcoal oven. Manufacturer Pictured: Montague Company
As the name implies, these charbroilers are used many times in steakhouses. These gas fired units radiate heat from above, but broiling rack is offers multiple height positions to adjust the distance from the food to the heat, which either speeds or slows the cooking process. Some manufacturers offer double stacked broiler units for high volume operations. Most single rack units also have a oven type box above the heating elements that allow the chef to quickly sear food under the broiler, then finish cooking slowly in the oven above. Manufacturer Pictured: Garland
For those foodservice operators who take their take their talents to the customer, some manufacturers offer a mobile restaurant kitchen charbroiler. Not to be confused with a smoker, these charbroilers are fired from beneath the grates by either gas, charcoal or solid wood fuel. Some models provide a roll down top cover to speed cooking, whereas others more closely resemble an open top charcoal grill. If you are a caterer and considering one of these units for your business, it is important to check with your local fire marshal to ensure the model you select will be allowed to be used commercially within city limits. Manufacturer Pictured: MagiKitch’n